Monthly Archives: April 2015

5 Tips to Help Take the Stress out of Downsizing

It’s a natural fact of life – the more you age, the more you acquire.  One day, you’re newlyweds buying your first home and filling it with nothing more than the hand-me-down furniture you get from your friends and family.  Then, in what seems like the blink of an eye, you’re living in your third home – and the children who once filled it with love and excitement have grown up and have kids of their own.  Your now empty nest, filled with a lifetime of precious memories, has become too large for you to maintain yourself.  You know that you need to downsize, but the thought of doing so is overwhelming – where do you begin?

_K0C6727A few suggestions you can use to help get the ball rolling:

1.  Don’t rush –

When first beginning the process of sorting through your belongings, it can be emotionally taxing.  Try to avoid jumping headlong into it – perhaps starting on an easier room, like a bathroom, with fewer things in it that you are emotionally attached to.  Be sure to take time out for breaks along the way as well, giving yourself some time to take your mind off things for a bit.

2.  Think through your needs at this stage in your life –

How long have you had that weight set in your spare bedroom?  You may have had big plans for those dumbbells at one time, but how realistic is it that you will use them?  Maybe it makes more sense to sell them (or give them away) and invest in a nice pair of walking shoes instead.  They take up less space, and you may be more likely to use them.  How about that old fishing equipment in the garage?  You used to fish with multiple rods and tackle boxes back when you had a boat, but since you sold it, maybe you can get by with just one rod and one tackle box and give the rest away.

3.  Create digital copies of photos –

Photos are among the most precious memories a person will ever accumulate.  They can also be very hard to let go of – but who says you have to?  As photos age, the image quality degrades.  Find a tech-savvy friend or family member and ask them to scan all of your photo albums for you and store them digitally on your computer.  This will eliminate the need for extra space to store stacks of old photo albums, protect your photos from damage, and make it easy for you to view them whenever, wherever you want to.

4.  Save it for later –

You will find that some things are easy to get rid of – especially if there is no personal attachment to them.  At times, though, you may find yourself struggling to decide whether or not you can bear parting with certain items.  Designate a special box or bin for these items, and next time you come across something you are indecisive about, place it inside.  Sometimes a little separation from these items gives you time to think more clearly and objectively about them.  This makes it much easier to have a greater confidence in deciding what you absolutely must keep, and what you can give away.

5.  Work with a senior move manager –

Senior move managers are specialists who help with every step of the downsizing process – from sorting through your belongings, to hiring a mover, to arranging your new living space for you.

Kimberly Alwin, member and secretary for the National Association of Senior Move Managers ( and owner of A Smooth Move in Austin, MN, believes that hiring a move coordinator can be a great first step.  “We always begin with a consultation,” Alwin said.  “Sometimes we work with just the people making the move, and sometimes we work with the entire family, but it is good to have that initial point of contact so we can begin talking through the process,” she added.

While they provide a number of services for seniors looking to downsize, one of the most important is helping them to visualize what their new living arrangement will look like with their possessions in it.  “We walk through the layout of their new living space together, complete with furniture placement, to help paint a realistic picture of how their things are going to fit before they move,” said Alwin.

Senior move specialists will take photos of how someone’s home is decorated, and then arrange their new living space to look and feel as much like the original as possible.  “We want to help people understand that downsizing does not mean letting go of all the things that they love.  In the end you can see the weight lifted off their shoulders when the move is complete and their new space feels a lot like their last home did,” she added.

Another thing that a move manager can do is provide objectivity.  Often times, when you are dealing with so many things that have so many memories attached, it can be difficult to judge whether or not something should be held on to.  A move manager provides a mechanism for people to step outside of their emotions and talk through the decision-making process rationally, leading to more confident decisions and more effective use of time.

If you have questions for us, Primrose would be honored to assist you.  Feel free to visit our website at for more information.

How am I Going to Pay for Senior Living?

There are many different reasons why a person may be looking to make a move to a senior living environment.  For some, it may be as simple as avoiding the cost and stress of home ownership.  For others, it may be because there is a need for memory care, or some level of assistance with the activities of daily living.  No matter the reason, one of the most frequently asked questions is “How am I going to pay for this?”  Here are a few options:

Capture One Catalog0796Long Term Care Insurance –

Long term care policies apply to assisted living and, in some cases, nursing home care if there is a specifically designated benefit for it.  Under this type of policy, a buyer makes premium payments to help cover expenses in the event of a stretch of expensive long-term care.  This is one of the best options to help defray the costs associated with assisted living, and in many instances, people into their 70s have been able to obtain it affordably.  Most people purchase long-term care insurance in their 50s and 60s as a proactive measure.  Contact your insurance agent for more information.

Annuities –

If you’ve invested in an annuity, it can also give you a reliable form of income that you can use to help pay your expenses.  When you purchase an annuity, you pay a large lump sum up front and then receive regular payments back on that lump sum for the rest of your life.  Many people continue to receive payments on their annuities even after their purchase premiums run out, allowing them to get more out of the annuity than they put in.  Annuities are complicated financial tools, though, so if you are looking into purchasing one – or if you just have questions about your current one – speak with a trusted financial advisor for more information.

Life Insurance Policy –

Commonly, these policies are purchased proactively, so a person can be sure that their loved ones are cared for after their death.  Life insurance policies can often be cashed out before the policyholder’s death, for a percentage of their face value, if needed.  Of course, there are different rules that apply with different policies and insurance companies, so if you want to research this option further, you should contact your insurance agent for more information.

Veterans Benefits –

If you are a United States veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran, you may qualify for the Aid & Attendance Program and receive monthly benefits to help cover the costs of your senior housing and care.  Contact the Veterans Benefits Administration office at 1-800-827-1000 or go online at for more information.

Private Funds –

Most people pay for independent living, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities out of their own pockets with private funds. There are some states which accept Medicaid for assisted living, but there is currently no program on the federal level, and private funds still account for approximately 90 percent of assisted living payments. About one-third of long-term care at nursing facilities is also paid with private funds.

_K0C6512Life Settlements –

A life settlement is the sale of an existing life insurance policy to a third party for more than its cash surrender value but less than its death benefit.  Proceeds from a life settlement can be used for any purpose, including financing senior living and healthcare needs.

Senior Living Line of Credit –

Specially tailored for families who want to move to senior living and assisted living, a Senior Living Line of Credit is now available nationwide to help families pay for a loved one’s senior housing and care. This payment option is especially helpful if families’ and seniors’ need time to sell a home or other assets with which to pay for care, or if a senior is waiting for federal benefits to start. Typically structured as a signature or personal line of credit, these lines of credit allow families to borrow only what is needed on a monthly basis to help finance their loved ones senior housing and care needs. Like any loan, a Senior Living Line of Credit is subject to credit approval.

Combining Family Resources –

Although a difficult option at times, when the whole family shares the same concerns for their parents, the option does exist to pool resources to help pay expenses.  There are many different ways to work these arrangements out – but in the end this solution requires close family communication so that everyone is on the same page.

Sharing an Apartment –

Sharing a private apartment with a roommate is a good choice for budget conscious individuals who face a shortfall in the amount they require to afford the senior community of their choice. Others choose to share an apartment because they like the companionship. Primrose can help you find a roommate who shares a common background or interests.

 Renting Out Your Home –

This is an option that has become more and more popular in the last few years.  It allows parents who are not ready to sell their home to hold on to it, and still generate income, by renting it out and using the revenue to help pay their independent or assisted living costs.  You may have family or a close friend in mind who could use a different place to live, or, for a percentage of the rent, you can hire a service to vet possible renters and manage your home for you while it is being rented.

We hope you find some ideas here that help you to feel more confident about handling the financial responsibility of moving into an independent or assisted living community.  There is much that goes into making the right choice for yourself or your loved ones, and the process can feel overwhelming at times.  One thing we encourage you to do is ask questions!  You can always reach out to Primrose by visiting our website at If you contact us personally, we will be happy to help you better understand your options.